Outbreak Company, Vol. 7

By Ichiro Sakaki and Yuugen. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.

For the most part, I tend to wait at least a day before writing a review of something. Reflection can be a good thing, and so sometimes my opinions on Twitter – which are as I read – don’t match up with what’s here. And, let’s face it, this volume had an uphill battle to win my affection in the first place. I enjoy Outbreak Company a great deal, but not for the fanservice. Thus when you have a volume that, in one way or another, doubles down on such things, you’re going to be losing me. That said, it is not without interest. If you can ignore the fact that the entire first story seems to revolve around Minori’s tits, it’s actually a lot of fun, and there is some actual suspense in there briefly – that turns out to be undercut. It’s Outbreak Company’s excuse to do a beach episode with swimsuits, something it admits within the text, and as such is fine. The other two stories were a bit more problematic with me.

The second story should have easily been my favorite, as it’s an emotional character-driven piece. It’s also from the POV of Myusel, which makes for a great change. We’ve known since the first book that she’s half-elf, but the subject of her parents has never come up. Now, all of a sudden, due to changes in the family, her mother has arrived (she’s the elf) and wants Myusel to leave the mansion and come live with her. Myusel, we know, really does not want to do this at all, but runs up against everyone seemingly thinking it’s a done deal and accepting that it has to happen. And if Minori and Shinichi are already arranging for her replacement, how can she say no? I was struck by how obtuse everyone was being in this part. Frankly, as a reader, Myusel’s depression could not be more obvious if she’d tried, and the fact that the characters all assume she’s fine with it really bothered me. Do they really know her all that well? This was well-written but the characterization just felt… off.

The third story was apparently written with the help of one of the author’s female assistants, who is a fujoshi. He clearly said to her “I want a story where Minori is going through BL withdrawal, make it as exaggerated as possible.” And boy howdy, that’s what happened. Again, the issue I have is with the characterization. I’m fine with Minori being like this. Though the constant chants of “homo, homo” are perhaps a bit… insensitive, shall we say, they certainly fit with a certain type of fujoshi. I was more annoyed with this essentially turning into a fujoshi zombie movie, with Minori infecting everyone else in the story (even Myusel, though she holds out at first, for reasons that everyone but Shinichi understand) so that the entire cast are suddenly mindless BL maniacs. Yes, that’s the exaggeration, but it didn’t sit well with me. That said, if you enjoy over the top comedy, this may be your favorite segment. It’s certainly that. And OK, the “Vitamin BL” gag was very funny.

This was certainly a volume of short stories. There were some interesting parts, but I am hoping that next time around we get back to the main plot.

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